Sense of powerlessness a great danger, says archbishop

Michael Neary: ‘All of us feel vulnerable, fragile, wonder and worry about what the future has in store’

Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary at Knock Shrine at the time of the papal visit in summer 2018. File photograph: James Forde

A great danger facing society today is a sense of powerlessness, the idea that the world is spinning out of control and that problems are too great to solve, Catholic Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary has said.

“The capacity for hope is very much at issue in our society today. Hopelessness is prevalent and powerful in so many areas,” he said.

“We have experienced a loss of the structured, reliable world that gave meaning and coherence and we find ourselves in a context where the most treasured and trusted symbols of faith and hope are disregarded and trivialised,” he said.

“At this time of year many students and their families are very anxious about the future, securing the course of their choice at third level and making arrangements for accommodation.


“At the more general level we have the uncertainty which is brought about by Covid-19, the fear about employment and the economic situation. All of us feel vulnerable, fragile, wonder and worry about what the future has in store,” he said.

People needed “reasons for hope if we are to go forward and face the future rather than resort to a form of nostalgia,” he said.

Speaking at a Mass in Knock Shrine in Co Mayo, he said that "hope is not a false optimism. It does not underestimate the challenges we face or ignore the setbacks we experience. Hope enables us to adopt an honest and critical analysis of where we find ourselves today."

Hope also “commits us to pursuing the truth and does not leave us enslaved by our own failures or the decadence of society. Hope reminds us that the future is open and there will be further developments that look forward to new opportunities”, he said.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times